WALC at USBevX 2017

In conjunction with the general conference and trade show, USBevX is launching the inaugural Winery Association Leadership Conference (WALC). This 2-day conference (February 22—23, 2017) is specifically designed for association leaders; Executive Directors, Board Members, Key Staff, etc. and will run concurrently with other USBevX activities. The goal of this innovative leadership summit is to arm participants with the tools, knowledge and contacts that they need to better serve their organizations and accomplish their initiatives.

The WALC program will feature association experts and peers presenting on topics that challenge all winery organizations and include a networking reception/luncheon. Participating attendees will also have full access to the USBevX conference, trade show and social events.


Participating Associations



WALC Schedule 2017

Wednesday Feb. 22

11:30 AM

Association Reception / Luncheon - The Important Role of the Winery Association

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Welcome luncheon for Winery Association Leadership Conference

With: Honore Comfort

1:15 PM

The Political Horizon for Wine & Craft Beverages

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM

With the election behind us and a new administration taking office, change is inevitable. What does it mean for wine and craft beverage producers, both large and small, and how are the different industries working together? Is it time to expand or retreat? What role can associations play? This session will cover legislative happenings at the state level and Washington, D.C. along with predictions for what the wine and craft beverage industries can expect in 2017.

With: Kevin Atticks, Ryan Krill, Michelle McGrath, Jim Trezise

2:30 PM

All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

It's no secret that the perception of wine quality is closely tied to the reputation of the region and that behind every well-known region, there's a strong association. Is it their PR? Their events? Direct Marketing? This workshop will look at successful regions and what their associations have done and continue to do to impact the perceived quality of the wines produced there. Success also brings other matters to light, like issue of land use and neighborhood compatibility. Learn how associations can help bridge the gap between the local wine industry and local community.

With: Honore Comfort, Beth Costa, Monika Elling, Morgen McLaughlin, Donniella Winchell

3:45 PM

The ABCs of AVAs: Staking Your Claim

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

An American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation can bring a big boost to the wine industry in a particular region, but the process of applying for that designation can seem confusing and maybe even overwhelming. What information should be in a petition? How do you best demonstrate your grape-growing region is unique? How do you choose a name? This presentation by the TTB AVA Program Manager will walk you through the steps of creating and submitting an AVA petition to TTB, as well as how to avoid some common petition-drafting mistakes. It will also include a discussion of what to expect once TTB accepts your petition.

With: Karen Thornton

5:30 PM

USBevX Welcome Reception

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Enjoy a special networking event featuring a selection of Wine, Craft Beer, Spirits & Cider carefully paired with a variety of hors d'oeuvres prepared by Marriott Wardman Park Chef.

Thursday Feb. 23

8:30 AM

USBevX GENERAL SESSION (All Attendees)
State of the Wine & Beverage Industry: "The Quality Revolution"

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM

Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, will lead the General Session that will look closely at the growth of the Eastern and Midwestern Wine & Craft Beverage industries.

Danelle Kosmal and Matthew Crompton with the Beverage Alcohol Practice at Nielsen, will provide an overview of the wine category's performance in 2016, both on and off premise, and discuss recent consumer trends that are influencing the wine category.

This will be followed by an interactive session featuring industry experts discussing the conference theme "The Quality Revolution" and sharing their perspective on what that means to the region.

10:30 AM

Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM

Association initiatives often require financing above and beyond what membership dues can cover. What are the alternatives? Events? Grants? Conferences? Most organizations are not aware of the thousands of dollars in grants available or what kind of events have the greatest potential for profit. Learn from experienced association leaders what's available and how your organization can participate in programs or events in a way that gives them the best chance of success.

With: Laurie Aldrich, Annette Ringwood Boyd, Scott Dockum, Steve Galyean, Velma Lakins, Garland Robertson

1:00 PM

Membership Growth: Recruitment & Retention

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Every successful association is committed to attracting new members and finding the best ways to keep the ones they already have. Do you need a membership sales person? How often should you connect with the members you already have? What percentage of wineries in my region should I have? What’s the best way to pitch membership? Experienced association professionals will speak to this topic and address questions like these in an interactive format and present effective R&R plans that work.

With: Elizabeth "E" Slater, Beth Costa, Debbie Reynolds

2:15 PM

Defining Your Destination: Strategic Planning for Your Association

2:15 PM – 3:15 PM

Well-run companies thrive because, from top to bottom, there is a clear understanding of goals and objectives. For associations, that translates into staff, board, and members knowing what the organization's mission is and having a strategic plan in place to accomplish those goals. This workshop will address the challenges you may face in defining long term plans and confront questions like: How do you build consensus with membership? How do you measure success? How do you distinguish between the strategic and the tactical? How often should you review your goals? What are the first steps? These questions and more will be discussed in this interactive session.

With: Max McFarland

3:30 PM

Pressing Topics for Wine Industry Associations – Open Forum

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

This open session time will be dedicated to identifying and addressing topics and issues most pressing to associations not covered specifically in other workshops.

With: Elizabeth "E" Slater

Friday Feb. 24

9:00 AM

USBevX CLOSING GENERAL SESSION (All Attendees)
From Here to There: A Look at the Wine and Beverage Industry Today and Tomorrow

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Paul Mabray, wine industry veteran and four time American Wine Blog Awards finalist as well as guest lecturer at UC Davis and many other symposiums will look at the wine and beverage industry’s approach to consumer engagement and impact of technology, today and tomorrow.

Following this, Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University will join Paul to lead an interactive discussion to explore in detail trends in the industry and best practices in building loyalty and brand equity with your customers.


WALC Speakers & Advisors 2017

All
Speakers
WALC Advisory Panel

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    Laurie Aldrich

    Executive Director / Virginia Wineries Association
    President, CEO / Association Solutions, Inc

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    Kevin M. Atticks DCD

    Founder / Grow & Fortify
    Executive Director / Maryland Wineries Association

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    Annette Ringwood Boyd

    Director / Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office
    Owner / Ringwood Boyd Marketing

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    Honore Comfort

    President / Brack Mountain Wine Company

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    Beth Costa

    Executive Director / Wine Road Northern Sonoma County

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    Scott Dockum

    Program Coordinator / U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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    Monika Elling

    CEO / Foundations Marketing Group

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    Steve Galyean

    Partnerships & Outreach Director / Virginia Tourism Corporation

  • View Bio

    Christopher Goblet

    Executive Director / New Mexico Wine Growers Association

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    Michael Kaiser

    Director of Public Affairs / WineAmerica

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    Ryan Krill

    President, Co-Founder / Cape May Brewing Company
    President / Garden State Craft Brewers Guild

  • View Bio

    Velma Lakins

    Grants Management Specialist / Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program

  • View Bio

    Max McFarland

    Co-Owner / Mac’s Creek Vineyards & Winery

  • View Bio

    Michelle McGrath

    Executive Director / U.S. Association of Cider Makers

  • View Bio

    Morgen McLaughlin

    Executive Director / Santa Barbara Vintners Association

  • View Bio

    Megan Metz

    Executive Director / Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association

  • View Bio

    Debbie Reynolds

    Executive Director / Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association

  • View Bio

    Garland Robertson

    Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

  • View Bio

    Elizabeth "E" Slater

    Founding Partner / Wine Industry Network
    Founder / In-Short Direct Marketing

  • View Bio

    Colby Smith

    Founder / Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley

  • View Bio

    Karen Thornton

    AVA Program Manager / TTB

  • View Bio

    Jim Trezise

    President / New York Wine & Grape Foundation
    Executive Committee Member, WineAmerica

  • View Bio

    Donniella Winchell

    Executive Director / Ohio Wine Producers Association

WALC Speaker Bios


Laurie Aldrich

Executive Director / Virginia Wineries Association
President, CEO / Association Solutions, Inc

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Laurie P. Aldrich is President/CEO Association Solutions, Inc. Since 2000, Ms. Aldrich has worked with the Virginia Retail Merchants Association (VRMA), where she was named President in 2002. The VRMA, which is over 110 years old, represents more than 5,400 retailers and other associated businesses from throughout Virginia. As President/CEO of Association Solutions, Inc., an association management company, Ms. Aldrich and her staff provide management services for non-profit organizations. Ms. Aldrich is contracted to provide management and Executive Director services for the Virginia Wineries Association. With Ms. Aldrich’s leadership, VWA has seen revenue growth of over 400%, applied for and been awarded multiple grant, started a quality assurance program for Virginia wine, and expanded their Governor’s Cup™ competition – resulting in participation of world-renowned judges and raising the awareness of Virginia wine. Association Solutions, Inc. also provides management services for the Indiana Winery & Vineyard Association and Fauquier Wine Council. A native of Ohio, Ms. Aldrich has over 20 years of sales, management and association experience. Ms. Aldrich currently serves as a member of the National Council of State Retail Associations and is a member of the Food Industry Association Executives and the Virginia Society of Association Executives and the American Society of Association Executives. Ms. Aldrich was educated at Purdue University.



Kevin M. Atticks DCD

Founder / Grow & Fortify
Executive Director / Maryland Wineries Association

Topic: The Political Horizon for Wine & Craft Beverages

Atticks is the founder & CEO of Grow & Fortify, a new firm that supports value-added agricultural businesses and strengthens the organizations that support them. Clients include the Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland and newly formed Maryland Distillers Guild.

Atticks has held the position as director of the Maryland Wineries Association since 2003. He authored the "Discovering Wineries" series of books, is the current chairman of the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC), and past chair of the and WineAmerica State & Regional Associations Advisory Council, and past president of the Maryland Agriculture Resource Council (MARC). Atticks holds a master’s in environmental journalism from University of Colorado–Boulder and a doctorate in communications design from the University of Baltimore.

Kevin Atticks is an affiliate professor of communication at Loyola University Maryland where he is the director at Apprentice House Press, the nation’s only campus-based, student-managed book publishing organization.



Annette Ringwood Boyd

Director / Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office
Owner / Ringwood Boyd Marketing

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Annette Ringwood Boyd is the director for the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office. In this capacity, she manages the board’s marketing efforts on behalf of the Virginia Wine Industry including the strategic oversight of the overall marketing of the Virginia wine industry. Her staff oversees the production of the Virginia Winery Guide, the development and day-to-day management of the industry website, www.virginiawine.org, October Virginia Wine Month, Love by the Glass Virginia Wine & Dine Month and other marketing initiatives on behalf of the Virginia Wine Board.

She began her wine career selling wines in a retail wine shop in college and later as marketing director for a Richmond, Virginia non-profit organization, where she planned wine events in downtown Richmond in addition to running the organization’s public relations and marketing efforts.

She ran the Virginia Wine Marketing Office for 5 years as an employee for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and from there went on to direct branding, marketing planning and business development for other organizations including various advertising agencies and non-profit organizations in Virginia.

Annette founded her own company, Ringwood Boyd Marketing in 2007 and her company has been the outside consultant managing the marketing efforts for the Virginia Wine Board since 2007. She has been recognized for her marketing by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association and the Richmond Chapter of the American Marketing Association and is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Business with a concentration in marketing.



Honore Comfort

President / Brack Mountain Wine Company

Topic: The Important Role of the Winery Association , All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region

Honore Comfort joined Brack Mountain Wine Company as President in February, 2015. This mid-sized winery based in Sebastopol, CA, produces a portfolio of handcrafted, age-worthy wines for distribution and direct-to-consumer sales. In her role, Ms. Comfort oversees marketing and administration, brand development and business strategy for the company. Together with CEO Jason Enos they manage distribution in more than 25 states and 3 countries.

Prior to her current role, Honore spent 9 years as the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Vintners. Under her leadership the Sonoma County Vintners organization doubled in membership and launched several significant initiatives including the Conjunctive Labeling legislation for Sonoma County. She developed Sonoma Wine Country Weekend and built the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction to be one of the top three wine auctions in the United States. Formerly with Foster’s Wine Estates Americas (now Treasury Wine Estates), Ms. Comfort has an extensive background in wine marketing, consumer marketing, and not-for profit management. As Group Brand Manager for Luxury Imports for Fosters, Ms. Comfort was responsible for marketing major wine brands to the North American market including Penfolds and Wynn’s along with other boutique luxury brands. Prior to the merger with Foster’s, she managed the Rosemount Estate brand for Southcorp Wines and was responsible for a 2 million case business in the US, Canada, and Latin America. Honore joined the wine industry in 2001 with a small, family-owned and operated winery in the heart of Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.

Ms. Comfort gained her marketing and advertising expertise while working as Director of Print Media for Macy’s West in San Francisco. Her well-rounded career also includes four years as a successful strategic planner and corporate fundraiser for the Art Institute of Chicago, and other non-profit museums and institutions around the United States.

Honore has a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Arts Administration both from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, along with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ms. Comfort lives in Healdsburg with her husband, and together they manage their micro-vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.



Beth Costa

Executive Director / Wine Road Northern Sonoma County

Topic: Membership Growth: Recruitment & Retention , All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region

Beth Costa has been the Executive Director for Wine Road Northern Sonoma County, an association of 200 wineries and 50 lodgings for the past sixteen years. In that roll she is responsible for creating the budget, managing staff and working with a committee to create and implement a yearly marketing plan. Beth oversees social media with a team that also creates the blog, newsletter and podcast to give visitors an insider’s view of Wine Road. In addition she facilitates the production of the Wine Road map and organizes educational seminars for members.

Beth is currently the chair for the Hospitality Advisory Board for Santa Rosa Junior College. She regularly partners with the tourism bureau in both Sonoma County and San Francisco on various press events.

Prior to working for Wine Road, Beth spent nine years managing the tasting rooms at Kendall-Jackson. While there she hired and trained staff, developed a training manual and managed the tasting room budgets. In addition Beth worked with the club manager to develop sales techniques and was in charge of purchasing and merchandising for the various tasting rooms.

Before learning the ropes in the wine business she was a department manager and clothing buyer for a department store in Northern California.



Scott Dockum

Program Coordinator / U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Scott Dockum is the Program Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Scott brings his biology and environmental sciences knowledge as well as his expertise in program management, program development, policy development/implementation, government business processes and peer review practices to SBIR. Scott is responsible for the day to day operations of the SBIR program including program development, policy development and implementation, understanding and developing SBIR government business processes, outreach activities and working directly with SBIR applicants, grantees and the investment community.



Monika Elling

CEO / Foundations Marketing Group

Topic: All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region, Social Media Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Keep Making

Monika Elling is the CEO and Founder of Foundations Marketing Group, a company launched in May 2010 to address the growing strategic communications and brand-building needs of the wine and spirits sector. Monika has years of experience in the global trade on the supply as well as the import/wholesale sides, having most recently served as Director of Public Relations at Lauber Imports, a division of Southern Wines & Spirits, America’s largest wholesaler. Prior to joining Lauber, Monika held the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Monarchia Matt International, where she launched the European Company’s American division.

She is a thought leader and innovator in the global wine & spirits industry, and with FMG, created a unique platform to embrace the latest market innovations in the U.S. wine sector. Monika is a noted speaker and author, with an upcoming book release on the topic of wine education. She is a noted presenter at numerous industry events on topics of Social & Digital Media and the State of the Wine and Spirits sector. Monika is a regular contributor to blogs on LinkedIn and Medium, with her latest article titled: Wine & Spirits: The U.S. Marketing Challenge . She also appears in global industry news such Harper's U.K, Huffington Post, and the Beverage Media Journal.



Steve Galyean

Partnerships & Outreach Director / Virginia Tourism Corporation

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Steve Galyean is the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Partnerships and Outreach Director. Steve works to forge new relationships among Virginia’s tourism industry partners, and to connect those partners to resources to help grow their businesses. Steve also administers the VTC grant programs that have leveraged $11 million in VTC funds with over $36 million in partner dollars to provide more than $48 million marketing dollars to promote Virginia as a travel destination.

Prior to joining the VTC team in 2005, Steve served eleven years as the Director of Tourism for the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau in Abingdon, VA. Preceding his move to Abingdon, he was Executive Director of the Galax-Carroll-Grayson Chamber of Commerce in Galax, VA.

Steve Galyean has served two terms as President of the Virginia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, as well as Vice-President of Tourism Marketing and Treasurer of the organization. In addition, he served as the first marketing chair for the Crooked Road - Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, and has served on the boards of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, the Virginia Highlands Festival, Tri-Cities TN/VA Regional Partnership, and currently serves on the Virginia Community Capital Advocates Council.

Steve Galyean is a native of Galax, Virginia, and a graduate of Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA.



Christopher Goblet

Executive Director / New Mexico Wine Growers Association

WALC Advisory Panel

Christopher Goblet is the Executive Director of the New Mexico Wine Growers Association and has spent the past 5 years working in developing the craft beverage sector for New Mexico Wineries and Breweries. Chris brings over a decade of experience in non-profit management, food & beverage marketing and event planning to the table.

In 2015 he passed 5 craft beverage laws during the New Mexico legislative session including a reciprocity bill which allows direct sales between local breweries and wineries. Having spent the past four years working to develop a robust craft beer sector in New Mexico, Mr. Goblet is living up to his last name and dedicating all efforts to raising the profile of New Mexico wine and cider.



Michael Kaiser

Director of Public Affairs / WineAmerica

Topics: WALC Advisory Panel , The Business Climate for Wine: What You Don't Know

Michael manages all external communications for WineAmerica. This includes press outreach and membership communication. Michael also actively recruits new membership for WineAmerica while getting the association’s message out to the masses. Michael is a regular fixture at industry trade shows and conferences throughout the country. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Associated Press, Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, Wines and Vines and Wine Spectator.

Michael is also the main point of contact between the organization and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and handles general regulatory concerns for WineAmerica members. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Drink Local Wine and the Advisory Board of the Craft Beverage Expo.

Prior to joining WineAmerica, Michael provided research and logistical support to two DC based lobbying firms. He also handled compliance issues with a major political party. Michael earned his BA in American Studies and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and a MA in Political Science from American University in Washington, DC.



Ryan Krill

President, Co-Founder / Cape May Brewing Company
President / Garden State Craft Brewers Guild

Topic: The Political Horizon for Wine & Craft Beverages

Ryan is the president and co-founder of Cape May Brewing Company, the Jersey Shore's first production brewery, which is quickly becoming one of the state’s largest craft beer producers. He is a member of the New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control Advisory Committee, a board member for the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, and a TED(x) talk alum and president of the board of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild.

Under his guidance, Cape May Brewing Company has produced a treasure trove of viral social media content, including videos with nearly 100,000 views throughout various platforms. Through his work with the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, Ryan routinely meets with various lawmakers and community leaders to discuss the issues currently facing production breweries in the State of New Jersey.

Ryan holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Villanova University and a Master’s Degree from New York University. He has lived and worked in Spain, California, and New York City, and has traveled to over 40 countries…tasting craft beer wherever he goes. When he’s not working or exploring, he’s flying small planes, cycling, or lusting over 13th century Armenian rugs.



Velma Lakins

Grants Management Specialist / Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Velma Lakins joined the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) Grants Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service in May of 2014. As a Grants Management Specialist her responsibilities includes managing the Federal award grant lifecycle. She completed her Grants Management Certification Program in December of 2015. Prior to joining the Grants Division, she was an Agricultural Marketing Specialist for the Local Food and Research Division. In this capacity she worked on the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, National Farmers Market Survey, managed the USDA Farmers’ Market and analyzed market data. She began her career at USDA in 1998 and has served in a number of capacities during her time at the Department.



Max McFarland

Co-Owner / Mac’s Creek Vineyards & Winery

Topic: Defining Your Destination: Strategic Planning for Your Association

Being a 30-year veteran in education, Max earned his degrees in Educational Psychology. He has made presentations/conducted workshops across the United States, Pacific Rim, and Europe.

Max and his wife Theresa co-founded and currently co-own/operate Mac’s Creek Vineyards & Winery in Lexington, NE.

Max is a past member of the WineAmerica Board of Directors and is Chairman of the Nebraska Grape and Winery Board. His research in the vineyard has focused on delaying bud break in cold climate hybrids and reducing pesticide usage in disease control.

Max and his son, Seth, (vineyard manager and winemaker) have presented their research in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Poland. Max has consulted extensively with Wine America and state wine/grape associations in developing their strategic planning processes.



Michele McGrath

Executive Director / U.S. Association of Cider Makers

Topic: The Political Horizon for Wine & Craft Beverages

In July of 2015, Michelle McGrath joined the United States Association of Cider Makers as Executive Director. She has years of food systems experience and passion. Prior to leading the cider association, she coordinated farmer, rancher and value added producer programs as Executive Director of Gorge Grown Food Network in Hood River, Oregon. At Oregon Environmental Council, she drove grassroots engagement for state environmental protections. She is relationship-focused with a knack for fundraising, marketing and cultivating membership participation. She grew up on a Christmas tree farm in the Sierra Nevada mountains and currently lives in Portland, Oregon—the city that drinks more cider per capita than any other city in the U.S.



Morgen McLaughlin

Executive Director / Santa Barbara Vintners Association

Topic: All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region

Morgen McLaughlin is the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, a non-profit organization whose membership is made up of wineries, vineyards, business associates, and hospitality partners missioned to promote the Santa Barbara County Appellation. She has been deeply involved in the wine and tourism industries since childhood through her family's various projects on the East Coast and Colorado. Wanting to follow her own path outside of wine, Morgen graduated from Boston College with degrees in English and Secondary Education. She was pulled back into the family wine business as the General Manager and eventual Co-owner of McLaughlin Vineyards. After twelve years at the winery and diversifying the business into special events, direct to consumer initiatives and ag-tourism projects, she left to become the President and CEO of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association in Corning, New York. Morgen led the organization and region through six and a half years of tremendous growth and national visibility for the Finger Lakes and its wines. Morgen lives in Santa Barbara County with her husband (a fellow wine professional) and three sons. She currently serves on the board of directors of Visit Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Santa Barbara County Agriculture Advisory Committee, Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Commission, and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.



Megan Metz

Executive Director / Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association

WALC Advisory Panel

Megan Metz is the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association and Managing Director of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Education Foundation. She is the past Executive Director of the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission and has been in the wine industry since 2008 and regional development since 2005. She is a visionary leader bringing 10 years of experience achieving operational optimization across two diverse industries both nationally and internationally. Recognized for talents in framing organizational visions and strategy development. Successful in leading regional wine industry strategic plan creation and implementation into tactical, metric and goal oriented realities. Proven leader in guiding organizations through change into dynamic growth positions. Skilled in devising and implementing new programs, processes, and products to measurably increase brand exposure and revenue generation. Effective working directly with social philanthropic innovators to achieve greater community giving. Passionate about the many economic and social benefits of the wine, food and agriculture industries in California and the world.

She grew up in Sonoma County and is a native Californian. She has her BA from San Francisco State University. She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband and daughter.



Debbie Reynolds

Executive Director / Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association

Topics: Membership Growth: Recruitment & Retention

Debbie graduated from Dallas Baptist College in 1973 and received her Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas. Debbie spent her career in all aspects of teaching and training holding positions as a public school teacher, college professor and in corporate training and consulting. She retired from American Airlines in 2007 where she was a Corporate Training Manager.

Debbie, a Texas Wine and Grape Grower Association volunteer for many years, joined the staff in 2011. The Association events are experiencing more attendance, sponsorship, and educational opportunities. Debbie works with the Texas Department of Agriculture to win Specialty Crop and Marketing Grants for the Association. She continues to keep membership at the forefront, reaching out to past and present members encouraging their support of the Association.

The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association promotes the production and appreciation of premium grapes and fine wines from Texas and represents a unified state industry with common marketing, governmental and educational goals. The Association started as the Texas Grape Growers Association in the 1970s and changed to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association in 1985. The Association and Texas Wine Foundation jointly promote Texas wineries and vineyards through the TX Wine Passport Mobile App and multiple social media outlets.

Debbie is active volunteer with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the City of Grapevine and Historic Downtown Grapevine Association, and sits on the Board of the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society.

Debbie has been married to Tom Reynolds since 1990. Together they share two sons, five grandchildren, and Lucy, a very spoiled dog.



Garland Robertson

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Topic: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization

Garland Robertson joined the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) in August of 2014. Garland comes to the SCBGP from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) where he worked as an Education Program Specialist where he served as lead program specialist for the 1890 Land Grant Colleges and Universities Capacity portfolio (1890 Facilities, Capacity Building, 1890 Extension and Evan-Allen grant programs) totaling $120M in FY2014. Prior to joining NIFA, he served as a Soil Scientist with Natural Resources Conservation Service. A native of Louisiana, Garland received a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science from Southern University. He continued his education by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Soil Science from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama.



Elizabeth "E" Slater

Founding Partner / Wine Industry Network

Founder / In-Short Direct Marketing

Topics: Funding Your Initiatives: Available Grants for Your Organization, Membership Growth: Recruitment & Retention, Pressing Topics for Wine Industry Associations – Open Forum, Quality Experience = Customer for Life

Elizabeth “E” Slater is an accomplished trainer, motivational speaker, marketer, writer and teacher. Founder of In Short Direct Marketing, cofounder of the Wine Industry Network, sought after public speaker and seminar leader, E offers trainings and personalized marketing solutions to direct-sales businesses in the wine industry, throughout North America.

Her 25+ years in marketing and experience with many businesses both large and small has helped her create a unique and cheerful approach to the most pressing challenges in the wine business. She also teaches classes in wine sales and marketing for Sonoma State University, SRJC and VESTA. For fifteen years E wrote a marketing column for Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. Her focus is primarily sales and marketing of wine directly to consumers in established and emerging markets.



Colby Smith

Founder / Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley

WALC ADVISORY PANEL

Colby founded the Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley in January of 2009 and in 2010 expanded it to Sonoma County which created the acronym CANVAS (Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley & Sonoma). Colby is passionate about the mission of CANVAS – to elevate the quality of service by all Hospitality Professionals in Wine Country. The organization provides networking opportunities, education and training, and a website with extensive hospitality resources. All empowering its members to have an outstanding impact on the visitor experience leading to return visits and recommending Wine Country to others. In this way, the members of CANVAS take pride in their positive contribution to the economy of Wine Country.

Immediately prior to starting CANVAS Colby was the Concierge at Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville for almost 4 years.

For over 20 years Colby worked as a business and communications consultant with an emphasis on Relationship Marketing.

She founded and ran a web development company in Los Angeles, owned a Public Relations firm in New York, which represented a range of image conscious clients nationally and internationally. Earlier in Los Angeles she was Production Manager and Producer for both feature films and commercials. She's been an actress, model, and even a stunt woman!

Her diverse career has found it’s way to Napa and she is enjoying incorporating this history into CANVAS to contribute a positive difference in Wine Country.



Karen Thornton

Program Manager / Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

Topic: The ABCs of AVAs: Staking Your Claim

Karen Thornton is the American Viticultural Area (AVA) Program Manager for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), where she has worked on AVA issues since 2012. As the AVA Program Manager, she reviews all AVA petitions submitted to TTB and determines whether they meet the requirements for proceeding to rulemaking. She also drafts the related rulemaking documents for approved petitions and provides guidance to anyone wanting to submit an AVA petition.

Karen started her Federal career at the Office of the Federal Register. She later gained regulations writing experience at the Federal Aviation Administration. She holds a BA in International Relations from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and a MA in Communications Studies from Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.



Jim Trezise

President / New York Wine & Grape Foundation

Executive Committee Member, WineAmerica

Topic: The Political Horizon for Wine & Craft Beverages

James (Jim) Trezise has been President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985, and has been involved with the industry since 1982. The Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization which sponsors research and conducts promotion programs in support of New York grapes, grape juice and wine. The Foundation's research and promotion programs have received international recognition, as has its close and productive partnership with the State of New York.

Most recently, largely due to the Foundation’s work over the years, New York State was named 2015 “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine as part of its Wine Star Awards. Other contenders were Champagne, France; Chianti, Italy; Sonoma Coast, California; and Red Mountain, Washington.

Jim is also widely recognized for his leadership in the broader American wine industry, having received six national awards or other recognition for his many contributions: The “Grand Award” of the Society of Wine Educators in 2014; one of “The 20 Most Admired People in the American Wine Industry” in 2013 based on a survey by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine; the Wine Integrity Award in 2006 from the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission; the first-ever “Distinguished Service Award” in 2001 from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (Eastern Section); the Perpetual Monteith Trophy (Thomas Jefferson Cup) in 1995 from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association; and recognition by "Wines & Vines" magazine as one of the “top 50 movers and shakers" in the United States wine industry. In addition, in 2014 he received the coveted “Chairman’s Award” of the New York Wine & Culinary Center.

Jim is actively involved with several national and international organizations focusing on key issues affecting the grape and wine industry worldwide. He is Founder and President of the International Riesling Foundation, a coalition of top Riesling producers from around the world seeking to promote Riesling and educate consumers. He serves on the Presidential Council of FIVS (formerly Fédération Internationale des Vins et Spiritueux -- International Federation of Wines and Spirits) based in Paris. He also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of WineAmerica, the national organization of American wineries; as a Board member of the National Grape and Wine Initiative; as a Board member of the Wine Market Council; and previously served as Director of Communications for the International Organization of Vines and Wines in Paris. He is a frequent speaker on major issues at conferences throughout the United States, as well as a professional wine judge at more than a dozen international competitions, and the author of articles which have appeared in The New York Times and other media.

Prior to his appointment as the Foundation's President, Jim had been involved with the New York grape and wine industry for three years, first as Executive Director of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, and then as President of the New York Wine Council representing both growers and vintners. His career includes more than 30 years of communications consulting, public relations, advertising, public policy, and strategic planning. He holds a masters degree in International Communications from American University in Washington, DC, and a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Allegheny College.

A native New Yorker from Rochester, Jim lived in France for three years prior to his involvement with the New York grape and wine industry. He now lives on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes wine region.



Donniella Winchell

Executive Director / Ohio Wine Producers Association

Topics: The Business Climate for Wine: What You Don't Know, All Ships Rise with the Tide: Branding Your Region

Donniella Winchell is currently the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, and chair of their Vintage Ohio wine festival.

She is on the board of the Winegrape Growers of America, is chair of the WineAmerica State Advisory Committee and is a the recipient of Monteith Trophy given annually to one leading figure in the American wine community. She is a member of the Knights of the Vine, received Ohio Travel Association’s Paul Sherlock award, is a member of Ohio Wine Hall of Fame and a recipient of Rotary’s Paul Harris award. She sat on the founding boards of the Ashtabula County and Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureaus, is past trustee of the Ohio Travel Association, sat on the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Board and was on the Ohio Division of Travel Advisory Committee for nearly 20 years. She serves on the Facilities Commission for the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva on the Lake, and is a member of the board of Pairings, Ohio’s Wine and Culinary Experience. She has contributed to several national wine publications, writes a regional weekly wine newspaper column, authors a marketing e-letter called Tuesday Tidbits, speaks at regional and national wine and tourism conferences and consults with a number tourism and wine marking organizations across the country. In her community, Winchell sits on several additional regional economic development boards.

Winchell is a graduate of Allegheny College with a BA in history and taught in Ohio public schools before retiring to raise a family. She then joined the Ohio Wine Producers as has been in the Executive Director position for over 25 years.



Pricing & Reimbursment Program 2017

  WALC Conference Fees

  • $495 - 1st Person
  • $295 per additional association attendee

  WALC Association Reimbursement Program

The Association Reimbursement Program was designed to support and assist association representatives that may not have a budget in place to attend the 1st annual Winery Association Leadership Conference (WALC).

The following program will be available for those that satisfy the following requirements

  • Conference Fees waived for Association’s 1st Registrant ($495 value)
  • Travel Reimbursements:
    • 10% of all conference fees paid by participant’s association members for general conference may be used as a reimbursement to cover travel/hotel costs. (Fees tracked using custom association promotional codes)
      Example:
      ABC Association members conference fees total: $12,500.
      $1,250 available in travel bank to reimburse WALC participants from ABC Winery Association

  Participation Requirements for Eligibility

  • Qualifying for reimbursment is easy!

  • Add USBevX Conference Information to your Association Site, Newsletters, and Event Calendars
  • Provide your Association’s Logo & URL for use on the US Wine & Beverage Expo site (usbevx.com)
  • Email USBevX Conference Information to Association Members leading up to the event, 4 times, (November, December, January, February) encouraging their participation.
    • Include your association promotional codes so your members can save on their registration fees.

    Copy, artwork, logos, and individualized association promotional codes will be provided.


For more information contact Amie Hodge at amie@wineindustrynetwork.com or call 707-433-2557 ext 106 or click here to be included on all USBevX news and updates.